My qualms about Google continue to grow. Within hours of me placing an Amazon order for garden items yesterday, my (Google) spam filter picked up an email offering me all sorts of things for the garden. So, thank God for Google then. Without it I'd be deluged with ads enabled by Google.
I'm always banging on about how much easier it is to pay for goods with a credit or debit card in the UK. And, doubtless, elsewhere too. But things just got even easier here. The amount you can spend without putting your card in a machine, entering your pin and/or signing a screen or a piece paper has risen from 15 to 20 pounds. Back home in Spain – where I'm returning two weeks today – I'll have to readjust to the prospect being asked to do ALL of these if I buy so much as a toilet roll. The UK ('contactless') option is called “wave-and-go” and you can read about it here. It's used a lot in the Far East. But how about Spain? Barcelona? Bilbao? Madrid?
Which reminds me . . . In the Welsh town of Aberystwyth, they decided to do without traffic wardens, assuming that drivers could be relied on to obey the rules and not park on yellow lines, chevrons and zebra crossings. After they proved an irritation a decade or so ago, we don't have wardens in Pontevedra. And I'd have been delighted to tell the council what would happen. Anyway, after a year, wardens are to return to Aberystwyth for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who lives in Spain.
This is the caption below a picture in one of the UK's leading newspapers this morning. The mistake it contains is the sort of thing one expects from a 3 or 4 year old trying to get to grips with the logic of a language which has only a modicum of it. But not from a major newspaper, surely:- Greece in turmoil: but its significance has shrinked in comparison to the possibility of a spectacular crash in Spain, the fourth largest economy in the EU. Actually, there's a second mistake but we'll let that one go, as being minor in comparison with the first.
But, anyway, it gives me a nice lead-in to the eurozone crisis. Out of virtually nowhere, the Spanish banks are suddenly the world's cynosure. It almost makes one laugh. Some of us amateurs are on record for having said for years that the Spanish boom was phoney and that the banks were fishy but no one seemed to hear. Now, though, the state of the Spanish banking industry threatens to bring down the entire euro project, dwarfing - as it does – Greece and sucking Italy in its wake into the maelstrom. As has been said by many over the past few months and more – There are essentially only one of two futures for the euro:- It has to be backed by full fiscal and political union or it has to be (will be) destroyed. And there ain't much time to put the first in place. Worse, there is neither the political will nor the political capability to do it. Or not democratically at least. I've said for years that the eurozone would one day collapse under the weight of its internal incongruities but I really never expected this to happen quite so quickly. Here's an article which makes much the same points, albeit with more style.
Ultimately . . . I finally tracked down some ginger beer and found it tasted just like the stuff I used to quaff in my grandparents' pub. Except this time there was an alcohol content of 4%. I had to ask my mother where her bottle opener was and she must have heard me cursing the fact I had to get down on my hands and knees to get it. (I don't know how, as I have to repeat everything I say at least once, as she says she can't hear me.) But, anyway, I say this because, when I went to open a second bottle tonight, there were no fewer than five openers laid out on the table. Point taken.